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Three Bay Area Artists Imagine a Post-COVID-19 World

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Portraits of Flavia Elise Mora, Micah Bazant and Eileen Sho Ji
Portraits of featured artists (L-R) Flavia Elisa Mora, Micah Bazant and Eileen Sho Ji. (Courtesy of artists.)

A few months ago, the pandemic felt like it might never end. Folks took to Twitter to compare the return to “normal” to nearly impossible events like winning the lottery or a One Direction reunion.

Throughout the past year, almost all of us have experienced loss, grief, isolation and hopelessness in a way we hadn’t before. Now that people are getting vaccinated and things are starting to reopen, we’re looking to artists to help us imagine a better world without the restraint of COVID-19.  

KQED Arts & Culture commissioned three local, interdisciplinary artists to create original artwork around a central theme of reimagining what the future could look like post-pandemic. They created a visual piece, a song and a poem that we first shared on our Instagram. People left heart emojis in the comments and said things like “Let’s make it real.”

We hope their artwork can help reignite hope, challenge aspirations and create comfort for 2021.

Micah Bazant, visual artist
Everyone Housed on Ohlone Land

What are your hopes for a post-COVID-19 world?

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As a national housing crisis unfolds, my hope is that the Bay Area transforms from a national disgrace to a model of housing for all rooted in Indigenous reparations and land return. 

How does your artwork translate that?

I imagined dense, beautiful, affordable co-housing that allows us to be interdependent and support each other through disability, illness and aging. In the foreground are the nopales/prickly pear catci/saber that are a symbol of Indigenous resistance and resilience from Mexico to Palestine.

What’s a piece of encouragement you’d like to share with the Bay Area creative community as we cross the one year anniversary of COVID-19?

Let’s imagine together and build a world where housing is a human right.

Eileen Sho Ji, singer-songwriter
“Better Days”

What are your hopes for a post-COVID-19 world?

I hope for all of us to become more deeply connected to one another, especially since we’re all collectively isolated experiencing this phenomenon together at the same time. It would be nice to come together in a post-COVID-19 world with a shared sense of acceptance of one another, like, “Hey, you went through this thing too!”

In an “in-the-middle-of-COVID world,” as well as a post-COVID-19 one, it would be nice for the concept of “affording survival” to not be a thing, for housing and healthcare to be viewed as basic human rights and be free for all, for our government to stop valuing corporate profit over human life. Until that day comes though, I just hope we can all continue being there for each other as much as possible. 

How does your artwork translate that?

My artwork translates that hope by putting it into words in the lyrics. We get caught up in concrete survival trying to meet our basic needs. And then once those are met, we’re faced with this abstract idea of an additional productivity that’s used to determine our self-worth. Meanwhile, we’re literally just animals on a rock in space.

What’s a piece of encouragement you’d like to share with the Bay Area creative community as we cross the one year anniversary of COVID-19? 

Keep doing what you’re doing! Whatever that looks like for you. So many people have been creative powerhouses during the pandemic, leveling up their craft, adapting their craft to the current conditions in really creative ways. And a lot of us are also just trying to get through each day and taking things slower. It takes a lot to just get out of bed some days and that’s OK—it’s all OK. Everything is enough. Pandemic or not, I would just like to encourage everyone to remember to be kind to themselves and not place too much pressure on themselves to create or to do anything. We’re so much more than what we do or make.

Flavia Elisa Mora, poet and muralist
“Norte”

What are your hopes for a post-COVID-19 world?

My hopes for a post-pandemic world are for certain communities and individuals, such as myself, to acknowledge and learn more about our privileges and the ways they can affect and harm others. This time has really highlighted inequity and its long history. Accountability is something the world really needs right now in order to begin doing the necessary repair work within marginalized communities.

How does your artwork translate that?

I believe my poem translates both the privilege and the accountability piece in the ways I describe white supremacy affecting Black, Indigenous and immigrant communities, amongst many others. I think I also make a point about not relying on the government for change. My piece instead highlights the power of the individual, the power of community and the power of our ancestor’s guidance. When I say “The water of our actions shall feed the flowers we bring to the dead,” I really mean that our positive and conscious choices moving forward will in some ways honor what’s been lost.

What’s a piece of encouragement you’d like to share with the Bay Area creative community as we cross the one year anniversary of COVID-19?

A piece of encouragement I’d like respectfully offer to the Bay Area community during these difficult times is to not be so hard on ourselves for not producing work at a certain rate. Creating art is much more sacred than that, and its value should not be in line with capitalism. We get to decide on our own beautiful creative journey.

We recognize this past year has been different for everyone. Here are some resources if you are grappling with grief or struggling with mental health challenges.

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